I look upon thee, oh House Magnificent, and vow that someday, you shall be mine. Mine trusty mallet is but a loving tool of persuasion.

When last we left Lorna, Chuck had found their dream home…

When Chuck showed me his abandoned dream house in the past, I nodded in polite support. This was my first serious miscalculation. I was agreeable because I figured his aspiration was preposterous insane improbable. To me, it looked like a haunted house that even ghosts abandoned because it was unfit for the dead. But, to him, it was a piece of local history that he could revive. Since I thought his dream would never come true, what was the harm in supporting him, right?

Sure, Chuck, that house is a winner. And I'm just a plain old reporter for the Daily Planet who has absolutely no interest in Lois Lane.

Since habitable homes for the living were impossible to find and residing with his parents was turning from “temporary” to “semi-permanent,” Chuck’s idea of buying the abandoned house seemed desperate but worth it bearable. Yes, I went along with it. No one twisted my arm out of its socket—I was simply anxious live in my home with my husband and son (and not live with my in-laws, their son and grandson). I’m sure my in-laws wanted their home back, too.

On a frigid, gray late-February day in 1990, the owner of the house agreed to show us the place. Icicles, resembling fangs, hung from the roof. He came with the “key”–a crow-bar to pry the plywood board off one of the entrances. With flash-lights illuminating our way, we entered the cold dark haunted house. Chuck and his dad were giddy with excitement; with each step, I was wondering what all the crunching was about. Bones? Teeth? Walnut shells. For 20+ years, squirrels called this place home and carried in black walnuts from the trees on the property. We proceeded through a maze of rooms. I fully expected a skeleton to jump out at me.

Hmm. I'm sure I was wearing a heavy coat and hat. The skeleton must have scared them from me...

We entered a room that the owner called “The Parlor.” Shining my flashlight around the room, I saw exquisite woodwork around massive windows and doors. In that room, I saw “potential.” Maybe it was a magic spell happening in that room, but the old house “spoke” to my heart. I was sold. If Chuck was crazy to want this house, then so was I.

Here it is. I know you don't believe me because I take so many zany pictures from Google Images, but this one is for real. Need more proof?

That's Alex and his cousins. At least Alex had the good sense not to try to hold the house up.

Chuck wasn’t surprised at my positive reaction. He thought I was on board with his idea all along,. That I don’t have an Academy Award is a mystery to me. I, however, surprised myself—I truly loved that old beast. My family was mortified dumbfounded dubious but supportive. I can only imagine what they said when I wasn’t around; but they were there to help during those first months when we had to make the house habitable.

My older sister's family and their camper--the only bathroom and kitchen on our property for a while.

We bought a house built in 1810 and fancified in the 1870s by the same builder who built Chuck’s parents’ home. The circular staircase design gave it away. Through its history, it survived three fires, the last in the mid-1960s. It remained deserted since. Even though they had “modern” conveniences back in the 1960s, the house lacked:

  1. running water
  2. bathrooms
  3. electricity that wouldn’t kill you if it worked, and only in certain parts of the house
  4. windows (all smashed in or unusable)

The house had plenty of: Never mind. It was a wreck.

At the closing, we got word that the well-driller finally struck water…580 feet deep. This was just the beginning of our future of sinking more money than we had ever imagined into our dream house. To save money, we did much of the demolition work ourselves and with a lot of help from family, Chuck’s and mine. Chuck, however, did the heaviest lifting: he was Finance Expert by day and Demolition Man by night and weekends.

By August, eight months after Alex and I moved in with my in-laws, we moved into our house. All three of us slept in a tent because the new windows hadn’t arrived yet. A blanket covered the bathroom door. A used claw-foot bathtub served as a place to bathe and a place to wash dishes. We had a charcoal grill, hot plate, microwave, and a refrigerator. We were a bit haggard but happy.

I started my new job on the grant, which included teaching 3 courses at the state university. I resumed my dissertation analysis and made Alex an adequate ghost costume that Halloween. I was Demolition Man’s helper, too.

We borrowed money to bring the house up to code and hired a contractor to do the major work. I assumed the product would be a beautifully restored 4,000 square foot home that we would happily live in until “they would take me out feet first.” Within a reasonable time-frame. That was the second in a stunningly long string of my serious miscalculations.

Mrs. Whiskers anticipated difficulty reaching the controls, but she never expected all those bright lights blinding her. At her kitty-calling-hours, many would speak of her problem with miscalculating situations. Poor Mrs. Whiskers...

Stay tuned to find out what other twists of fate Lorna didn’t properly calculate.